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Cancer Awareness

The WHFS Cancer Awareness project has been completed and is now closed. This page is for information only.
The WHFS (Women's Health & Family Services) Cancer Awareness project ran from 2013 to September 2016 and its aims were to:
  • Increase public awareness (including risk factors and symptoms) of 3 specific cancers – bowelbreast and lung cancer.
  • Dispel cultural myths, stigmas and misinformation about cancer.
  • Increase awareness of cancer screening services in Tower Hamlets and encourage more people to access them.
  • Build on collaborative partnerships with GP networks, pharmacies and voluntary & community organisations (VCOs) to improve the awareness and early diagnosis of all 3 cancers and therefore patients' health and wellbeing.

Why the project is important

Tower Hamlets has a higher incidence of cancer and amongst the worst mortality and survival rates in the country, with cancer the leading cause of premature death in Tower Hamlets.

Early detection of cancer (for example, via screening) improves survival rates, because of the wider range of options available to patients.  There are screening programmes in Tower Hamlets for breast, cervical and bowel cancer, yet uptake of cancer screening remains below national targets and, for bowel cancer, screening uptake is the lowest in London.

WHFS research

One of WHFS’s previous projects - Cancer Screening Research in 2012-13 (commissioned by the Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust) - identified some of the key barriers to accessing cancer screening experienced by local communities, which included lack of awareness, fear, embarrassment, language barriers, myths and misinformation about both cancer and cancer screening.  Please click here to read more about this project and download a copy of the report.

Cancer Awareness Peer Supporters

To address these barriers, WHFS was commissioned by the Tower Hamlets’ Public Health Team in 2014 to recruit, train and support 15 local volunteers to act as Cancer Awareness Peer Supporters. Our Peer Supporters continued to work as advocates on the Cancer Awareness project within local communities, sharing their knowledge on cancer (including risk factors and symptoms) and the benefits and availability of cancer screening services.

Further information

Please click here for information on our current projects.